Arbella Game 6 Preview: Knicks at Celtics
BOSTON – At least one more game of basketball remains to be played at TD Garden this season. The Celtics forced a Game 6 matchup with the Knicks after a victory Wednesday night. Game 6 will be played at 7 p.m. tonight in Boston in front of a raucous crowd.
Games 3 and 4 weren’t exactly electric at TD Garden after the C’s fumbled away Games 1 and 2 in New York. Friday night is going to be a different story. The Jungle is going to be rocking as Boston attempts to even this series up at three games apiece.
One week ago, this situation seemed improbable. The Celtics fell behind three games to none last Friday with a 90-76 defeat at the Garden. Boston shot just 40 percent from the field during that game and it seemed as if its season was on the verge of ending.
Fast-forward to today and there is an entirely different vibe in this series. The Celtics have life, and so do their fans.
Boston has now won two consecutive games thanks to back-to-back games in which it scored at least 92 points. The C's won 97-90 in overtime Sunday afternoon at home and then defeated the Knicks 92-86 Wednesday night in New York. Carmelo Anthony has missed 41 shots during those two contests en route to two extremely inefficient performances.
Anthony and the Knicks know that Boston hasn’t quit. The Celtics are standing Boston Strong, and now they’re full of momentum.
“We out here scrappin’,” Kevin Garnett told CSNNE’s Greg Dickerson after Wednesday’s win. “This is survival. This is like a Game 7. Every game from here on out is like a Game 7, and we’re scrappin’.”
Scrappin’ their way right back into this series.
Forget about the fact that the Celtics must win four games in a row to win this series. Two of those wins are already in the books. They’re history. Right now, heading into this game, New York has won only one more game in this series than Boston has. One more victory for the C’s would force a Game 7, and under those circumstances, anything is possible.
Boston will reach Game 7 if it continues to play the brand of basketball it has over the past two contests. It is sharing the ball (21.0 assists per game), making shots (45.2 percent shooting) and playing great defense (New York has shot 36.8 percent).
Those are the three keys to Boston’s chances. Playing well in all three areas will put the team in prime position to make history on Sunday.
Terrence Williams’ Impact
As we covered here after Game 5, Terrence Williams made an enormous impact on Game 5. Doc Rivers called on him out of the blue and the fourth-year wing out of Louisville capitalized on his opportunity.
Williams provided a boost in two key areas: ball handling and defense. His presence resulted in a calmness in Boston’s offense, which led to much more efficient possessions. At the other end, Williams became the first Celtics defender to have success defending Raymond Felton.
The Celtics seem to have turned the corner on offense in terms of taking care of the ball and making good decisions. They would like Williams to play well at that end, but more importantly, they need him to keep Felton under wraps.
Something has clearly gotten into Jason Terry the past two games. It may have been the elbow he took to the grill from J.R. Smith during Game 3, or it may have been the smack talk the Knicks dealt out prior to Games 4 and 5. Whatever it is, it has fueled Terry’s play.
Terry has averaged 17.5 points per game over the last two contests on 50 percent shooting. He has been a marksman from downtown, nailing six treys over those two contests.
It’s no surprise that the Celtics have won the two games in which Terry has hot from the field. Boston will not win unless Terry is Terry.
Someone Else Must Play
Rivers played only seven men during Game 5, with Terry and Williams being the only reserves to appear in the contest. That resembles the prototypical Game 7 mindset, where the coach will do anything to win the game.
Boston will be in a Game 7 mindset again tonight but Rivers will surely need to call on more than two reserves. Rivers can’t have three starters play at least 40 minutes again, and Paul Pierce can’t log 44.
The two players Rivers would likely turn to are Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee.
Crawford hasn’t been the scoring threat Rivers has wanted him to be during this series. The C’s would be happy if he could provide some punch in that category if his name is called on tonight.
Lee has been stuck to the bench the past two games, logging zero minutes. However, we all know what he can bring to the table: great on-ball defense and slashing to the basket. He will be motivated to play well if he gets into the game.